Yemeni Security Official at U.S. Embassy Shot Dead (AP-ABC News)
A masked gunman assassinated a Yemeni security official who worked for the U.S. Embassy in a drive-by shooting in the capital Sanaa on Thursday.
Yemeni officials said the killing bore the hallmarks of an attack by the al-Qaeda offshoot in Yemen.
Cutoff of U.S. Money Leads UNESCO to Slash Programs - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
A year after the U.S. cut off its financing to UNESCO, following a vote to make Palestine a full member, the organization has cut back programs to reduce costs.
UNESCO's director general, Irina Bokova, has secured pledges of about $70 million since December to try to make up for the $144 million in dues that the U.S. has withheld, she said in an interview in Paris. "But there is still an enormous shortfall."
Congress had passed two laws in the early 1990s requiring an immediate cutoff of money to any UN agency that accepted Palestine as a member.
Rocket-Propelled Syria - Rania Abouzeid (Foreign Affairs)
Weapons traders are doing a brisk business in Syria.
Although the Syrian rebels lack the direct foreign military assistance that Assad's regime receives - mainly from Russia - they have tapped into a variety of sources for procuring arms and money.
Senior defectors have their own means of funding (largely provided by Syrians in the diaspora and from wealthy Arabs in the Gulf) and are setting up individual patronage networks, distributing money to select groups of FSA units.
Egypt Grants Citizenship to 50,000 Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Some 50,000 Palestinians, most of them from Gaza, have been granted Egyptian citizenship over the past few months, an Egyptian security official
told the newspaper El-Watan on Thursday.
The official said that the Egyptian Interior Ministry had been instructed to give citizenship to all Palestinians who were born to Egyptian mothers.
The official said Cairo was studying the requests of an additional 35,000 Palestinians to receive Egyptian citizenship and predicted that by 2013 the number of Palestinians with Egyptian citizenship would reach 100,000.
Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, disclosed earlier this year that he, too, had become an Egyptian national because his mother was Egyptian.
Wharton School Launches Israel Edition (PRWeb)
Knowledge@ Wharton, the online research and business analysis journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has launched Israel Knowledge@Wharton.
The site, which is free, includes articles that focus on Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship, among other topics.
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- Hizbullah Claims Responsibility for Sending Drone over Israel
The leader of Hizbullah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, claimed responsibility Thursday for launching an Iranian-made drone aircraft into Israeli airspace earlier this week, and warned there would be more such operations. "It is our natural right to send other reconnaissance flights inside occupied Palestine.... This is not the first time and will not be the last. We can reach any place we want" in Israel, he said.
Hizbullah, a powerful Shiite group committed to Israel's destruction, has long served as an Iranian proxy along Israel's northern border. Hizbullah fired several thousand rockets and missiles into Israel during a
month-long war in 2006. (AP-Washington Post)
- U.S. Blames Iran Hackers for Cyberattacks - Lolita C. Baldor
A former U.S. government official says American authorities firmly believe that Iranian hackers, likely supported by the Tehran government, were responsible for recent cyberattacks against oil and gas companies in the Persian Gulf. A U.S. official said the Obama administration knows who launched the cyberattacks and that it was a government entity.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday the cyberattacks were probably the most destructive the private sector has seen to date.
"Potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable for their actions that may try to harm America."
The cyberattacks hit Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas.
Panetta said the Shamoon virus at Aramco rendered more than 30,000 computers useless, forcing them to be replaced.
- Muslim Brotherhood Chief Calls for Holy War Against Israel - Steven Emerson
The head of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood called for Muslims to "raise the flag of Jihad" to liberate Jerusalem. In a statement issued Thursday in Egypt's Al-Ahram, Mohammed Badie said negotiations are pointless.
"Let Muslims know and let Believers be certain that the recovery of the holy sites and the safeguarding of goods and blood from the hands of the Jews will not be through the corridors of the United Nations, nor through negotiations," Badie said. "The Zionists...will not step back from transgression unless they are forced to. This will only be by holy Jihad, and enormous sacrifices and all forms of resistance." (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
See also Egypt's Brotherhood Head Urges Jihad for Jerusalem (AFP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Demands UN Censure of Gaza Rocket Fire - Yitzhak Benhorin
Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the Security Council Thursday over their failure to condemn Gaza's rocket fire on Israel, although the UN was quick to condemn similar fire by Syria on Turkey.
"Over the past three days, terrorists fired 37 more rockets into Israeli communities," Prosor wrote.
"While the people of southern Israel remain semi-permanent residents of bomb shelters, the permanent and semi-permanent members of the Security Council remain unable to speak with one voice against these attacks."
"The Council has slept through more than 12,000 rocket attacks against Israelis over the past decade. We applaud the Security Council's condemnation last week - and expect the Council to act with the same speed and conviction to condemn the rocket fire targeting one million Israeli civilians....Gaza terror begins and ends with Hamas, which took full responsibility for these attacks." (Ynet News)
- Expert: Israel Can Handle Hamas' Multi-Barrel Rocket Launchers - Mitch Ginsburg
Reports claimed that Hamas used multi-barrel rocket launchers triggered by a cellphone timer in this week's upsurge in rocket fire from Gaza. But leading Israeli missile expert Uzi Rubin said Hamas does not have sophisticated multiple-launch capabilities, and that remote-control launchers are not new. Rubin, the former head of Israel's missile defense organization, told the Times of Israel Wednesday that videos of Hamas' multi-rocket launchers actually show launchers on pick-up trucks in Libya.
Rubin said Hamas' multi-launch systems are improvised, bound together and dug into pits, and are less accurate than a true multi-barrel rocket system.
He added that Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system can handle a barrage. The website of the manufacturer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, says the system can handle 20 rockets at once. (Times of Israel)
- The Price of Inaction: Energy and Economic Effects of a Nuclear Iran - Sen. Charles S. Robb and Gen. (ret.) Charles Wald
Tehran crossing the nuclear threshold might not immediately precipitate a conflict or cause a disruption in the flow of oil. But the expectation of potential future disruptions that a nuclear Iran would introduce into global energy markets would have a significant effect on oil prices and, by extension, the U.S. economy. Our analysis indicates that the expectation of instability and conflict could increase the price of oil by between 10 and 25%, which would result in prices $11 to $27 higher per barrel.
(Bipartisan Policy Center)
- The Alawites and the Future of Syria - Harold Rhode
Many Alawites believed that the Arab-nationalist route of being accepted by the majority-Sunnis was doomed. They feared that whatever they did, the Sunnis would never accept them. For these Alawites, the only solution would be a separate Alawite state, or entity, where they could control their destiny and not be under the dreaded Sunni yoke.
The Alawites would be wise to fear that, whatever happens in Syria, the Sunnis will massacre them for having governed Syria and for having killed so many Sunnis during the current war.
Assad, therefore, cannot give in. He and the Alawites - whether they support or oppose Assad - are fighting for their very existence.
The only way to end this civil war is to let them have control over their destiny - either as an autonomous region in Syria or as an independent entity. Whatever happens, they will insist that they remain well-armed.
From 1994 until his recent retirement, the author served in the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment.
- How the Arab Spring's Prisoner Releases Have Helped the Jihadi Cause - Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Aaron Zelin
The investigation of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed American ambassador Christopher Stevens has begun to focus on a Libya-based Egyptian, Muhammad Jamal, who recently got out of an Egyptian prison. Since the beginning of the "Arab Spring" uprisings, prisons in affected countries have been emptied, inmates scattering after being released or breaking free.
The Arab dictatorships were notorious for unjustly incarcerating political prisoners, but jihadists have also been part of this wave of releases, and we are now beginning to see the fruits of the talent pool that is back on the streets.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Aaron Zelin is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Atlantic)
- The Christian Exodus from Egypt - Samuel Tadros
Hosni Mubarak crushed the Islamist insurgency of the 1980s and '90s. He was no friend to the Copts, but neither was he foe. Then came last year's revolution. A dictator could be bought off. With the mob you stood no chance.
The collapse of the police liberated the Islamists, who quickly dominated national politics but were even more powerful in the streets and villages.
When Coptic homes and shops were looted in a village near Alexandria in January, the Copts were ordered to evacuate the village. The writer is a research fellow at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Will Jordan Be Next to Fall? - Lee Smith
Should Jordan's King Abdullah II become the next Arab ruler to fall, it will mark another major setback for the U.S. in the region. For Israel it's significantly worse news. Jerusalem would lose its remaining strategic partner in the region - having already lost Turkey and Egypt - and face a possible nightmare on its longest border, exposing the country's center to attacks from the east that might include Sunni Jihadists or Iranian-trained Iraqi agents.
In neighboring Syria, Assad's fall at the hands of Islamist rebels could put wind in the sails of Jordan's own Muslim Brotherhood party, the Islamic Action Front.
At protests last week in Amman organized by the Islamic Action Front, "the turnout was much larger than the 8,000 that the government claims attended," said Hassan Barari, a political analyst at Jordan University. "It was...35,000-40,000." The reality is that there's little the U.S. can do at this point to protect one of its most steadfast allies in the region.
The writer is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Politically Incorrect Questions about Arab Politics - Aaron David Miller
If the Arabs democratize, they will do so in their own unique way consistent with their politics, culture and history. In a region still dominated by religious strictures, regional conflicts, and tribal and provincial divisions, the arc of history on democratization is bound to be a long one. (National Interest)
- Where Jewelry and Charity Meet - Judy Lash Balint
Isaac and Orna Levy, owners of Yvel, an award-winning Israeli jewelry company near Jerusalem, are running an innovative school that is teaching the jewelry trade to an eager group of motivated Ethiopian immigrants. The Megemeria training program ("Genesis" in Amharic) trains some 21 Ethiopian immigrants at a time, chosen for their artistic sense and propensity for precision work.
Isaac Levy said the first year graduates "are now employed in full-time jobs and...are supporting the Israeli jewelry industry abroad."
Before they were accepted to Megemeria, several of the students were working as house cleaners and security guards. (Algemeiner)
How One IDF Soldier Refused to Let His Lost Arm Keep Him Out of Combat - Renee Ghert-Zand (Times of Israel)
- A few weeks after the Gaza war broke out in December 2008,
Izzy Ezagui, an immigrant from Miami,
was guarding the border between Israel and Gaza when a direct mortar hit took off his left - and dominant - arm.
- For most young men, that would have been the end of their combat careers, if not their military service altogether. But for Ezagui, it was just the beginning. Defying doctors' orders, Ezagui has become, as far as he is aware, the only IDF soldier with this specific disability to return to full combat duty.
- "I decided from day one I wanted to go back to the army, and back to combat," he said. "Not only did the army not want me back, but they told me I couldn't come back...and didn't want any part in my crazy dream."
- One day Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, then the head of Israel's Southern Command, came to visit wounded soldiers in rehab. "The first thing I told him was that I wanted to go back to the army and to combat," Ezagui recalled. "It was the same thing I told all the generals and politicians who came to visit, but he was the only one who said OK."
- By mid-2010, a year and a half after his injury, Ezagui was back in the IDF. After retraining, he went on to serve in Hebron, and later progressed to command school. But first, he had to pass all the tests required of combat soldiers, including shooting, reloading guns, unjamming rifles, throwing grenades, charging hills, climbing ropes and even doing pushups. By himself, Ezagui figured out how to do all of these things.
- Ezagui says he feels lucky to be alive, and is proud to have succeeded in his quest. "Why me?" he said, is not a question he asks.
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